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Two thirds (66%) of consumers say access to free Wi-Fi is a major factor when they decide where to eat or drink, new research by Hughes Europe reveals.

The survey, unveiled consumer attitudes to Wi-Fi across a wide range of hospitality and retail settings, with key findings stating that 59% of consumers decide which hotel to use according to the availability of free Wi-Fi, while 46% said it heavily influences which shops they enter.

“Our survey explores how consumers increasingly expect access to Wi-Fi when they shop, enter a restaurant or look for somewhere to stay,” says Chris O’Dell, Vice President of sales and marketing, Hughes Europe. “The results show how Wi-Fi must now be a key consideration for any business in retail or hospitality that wants to meet customer expectations and boost footfall.”

The increasing demand for Wi-Fi was demonstrated in the survey by the 53% of respondents who think it should be more widely available in shops. However, connectivity frustrations remain for consumers, with 47% suggesting that retailers should make it easier to use.

In other findings, the survey also showed that many consumers still encounter problems when using free Wi-Fi. 56% of respondents say slow connections are their biggest bugbear in hotels, closely followed by the 53% who say it is the failure to find any connection at all.

In restaurants and cafes, 46% point to slow connection speeds and 45% to connection failures. Some respondents are also worried about safety, with 44% saying they want more secure connections.

“There are huge potential benefits for retailers and hospitality operators offering free Wi-Fi,” said O’Dell. “However, we can see the importance of getting it right as consumers have increasingly little patience with poor connectivity. Optimising Wi-Fi in a store, coffee shop or restaurant should be addressed with the attention it requires – highlighted by the survey findings which show the growing consumer expectations from their Wi-Fi experience. With reliability, security and quality of connection of utmost importance for today’s retail and hospitality industries, at Hughes Europe we work with our customers to provide a managed service which will match the best solutions to the individual requirements of each business.

As well as attracting more customers and guests and keeping them on the premises for longer, free Wi-Fi can deliver substantial benefits to businesses regardless of sector. Requiring customers to log in via social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+ can grant businesses access to hugely valuable customer data such as age, gender, buying habits and personal interests.

Such profile data can be employed to shape more personalised push-offers and achieve better outcomes from targeted marketing.

“We are all about connecting people to the digital world and giving retailers, restauranteurs and hoteliers the ability to attract and retain more customers and boost revenues,” added O’Dell.

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